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Champions League Team of the Week - David de Gea, Toni Kroos, Edin Dzeko

Sports Mole selects its Champions League Team of the Week, including David de Gea, Toni Kroos and Edin Dzeko.

The group stages of the 2021-22 Champions League moved a step closer to its conclusion this week, with a number of teams booking their spot in the knockout round ahead of the final set of fixtures in early December.

In Group A, Manchester City made sure of first position with a 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain, who will finish second in the section, ahead of RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Liverpool made it five wins from five Group B fixtures by beating Porto 2-0 on Wednesday, but second spot in the section is still very much open for discussion, with Porto, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid all in the running.

In Group C, Ajax also made it five wins from five with a 2-1 success at Besiktas, while Sporting Lisbon secured second position with a 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund, who will drop into the Europa League.

Real Madrid and Inter Milan have both progressed from Group D, but first position in the section is still open, with Los Blancos, who beat Sheriff Tiraspol 3-0 on Wednesday, currently two points clear of an Inter side that recorded a 2-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Bayern Munich have breezed into the knockout round, winning all five of their Group E fixtures, including a 2-1 success at Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday, while Barcelona are second with seven points, two points clear of third-placed Benfica, with the two teams playing out a goalless draw at Camp Nou.

Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-0 to make sure of a spot in the round of 16, and Atalanta BC's 3-3 draw with Young Boys then confirmed that the Red Devils had topped Group F; Villarreal and Atalanta will now battle for the second qualification spot in the section on the final matchday.

In Group G, just three points separate fourth-placed Wolfsburg, who lost 2-0 to Sevilla on Tuesday, from leaders Lille, with the French outfit running out 1-0 winners over Red Bull Salzburg, and the top two positions are still open heading into the final set of fixtures.

Chelsea incredibly thumped Juventus 4-0 in Group H on Tuesday night to move to the top of the section, but both clubs have already booked their spot in the knockout round of the competition, with Zenit St Petersburg and Malmo sitting third and fourth respectively.

Here, Sports Mole selects its Champions League Team of the Week from the fifth set of fixtures in the groups stages of this season's competition.


DEFENCE

Chelsea defender Reece James pictured on November 23, 2021© Reuters

David de Gea played a vital role in Man United's 2-0 success over Villarreal on Wednesday, making three big saves during the contest, including an incredible stop to keep out Manu Trigueros just before the hour, and the Spain international deserves his spot between the sticks in this particular XI.

Reece James also had to be included, with the England international starring in Chelsea's four-goal win over Juventus; the right-back was on the scoresheet at Stamford Bridge, but it was his overall performance that impressed the most, as he excelled defensively and caused so many issues for Juventus down the other end.

There is also a spot in the side for Nicolas Otamendi, who was a key contributor for Benfica on Tuesday, as the Portuguese giants picked up a point away to Barcelona; the 33-year-old was exceptional at the heart of the Benfica defence, with the likes of Memphis Depay and Yusuf Demir struggling to get the better of him.

The final position at the back goes to Lille's Reinildo, who was the best player on the pitch in his side's 1-0 win over Salzburg; the 27-year-old completed four dribbles, won five aerial duels and made five tackles during a brilliant defensive performance on Tuesday night.


MIDFIELD

RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku pictured on November 24, 2021© Reuters

A five-man midfield includes Leipzig duo Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg, with both players scoring twice in their side's 5-0 win at Brugge. Nkunku netted once in either half on Wednesday, while he also set up Forsberg for the Sweden international's second of the match in the 46th minute.

Forsberg played in a slightly deeper position than Nkunku, but both players caused Brugge so many problems, and it was very difficult to leave either out of this XI considering their contribution to the cause.

Elsewhere, Toni Kroos ran the show for Real Madrid against Sheriff, with the Germany international putting in a classy midfield performance, which included a goal in the 46th minute; the 31-year-old boasted a pass success rate of 96%, meanwhile, and Sheriff found it difficult to get near him for long spells.

Dortmund also found Sporting Lisbon's Pedro Goncalves difficult to contain on Wednesday, with the 23-year-old scoring twice in his side's 3-1 victory; the attacker's brace helped book Sporting's spot in the round of 16, with Dortmund now unable to qualify for the knockout stage of the competition.

The final spot in midfield is handed to Chelsea's Jorginho, who was in fine form against Juventus; the Italian boasted a pass success rate of 89% against the Serie A giants, while he also made four tackles during a brilliant all-round performance at Stamford Bridge.


ATTACK

Inter Milan forward Edin Dzeko pictured on November 24, 2021© Reuters

Edin Dzeko was in excellent form for Inter on Wednesday, scoring both of his side's goals in the 2-0 win over Shakhtar, which has seen the Serie A outfit qualify for the knockout round of the competition. Shakhtar found it incredibly difficult to deal with the 35-year-old, who put in an excellent centre-forward's display, meaning that he just could not be left out of this team.

The final spot in this particular XI goes to Sebastien Haller, who came off the bench to score twice for Ajax in their 2-1 win over Besiktas; Haller has now netted nine times in five Champions League appearances this season, playing a leading role in his side breezing to the knockout round of the competition.


SPORTS MOLE'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEK

CL TOTW MD5

Sports Mole's Champions League team of the week (3-5-2): De Gea; James, Otamendi, Reinildo; Forsberg, Kroos, Jorginho, Goncalves, Nkunku; Dzeko, Haller


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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Chelsea139313152630
2Manchester CityMan City139222772029
3Liverpool1384139112828
4West Ham UnitedWest Ham137242416823
5Arsenal137241517-223
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves136251212020
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs126151117-619
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd135352122-118
9Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton134631214-218
10Leicester CityLeicester135352023-318
11Crystal Palace133731919016
12Brentford134451717016
13Aston Villa135171821-316
14Everton134361620-415
15Southampton133551118-714
16Watford134181824-613
17Leeds UnitedLeeds132651220-812
18Burnley121651420-69
19Norwich CityNorwich13238727-209
20Newcastle UnitedNewcastle130671529-146

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